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tv   St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust  CSPAN  June 29, 2014 2:25pm-4:01pm EDT

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to europe and he's joined by other scholars and a survivor of the holocaust who was a passenger on the trip, to talk about the refugees and the policies of countries involved. the jewish museum of florida at florida international university hosted this event. along with the latin american jewry initiative, the cuban research institute, the latin american and caribbean center, and the jewish studies initiative. this is 90 minutes. >> can you hear me? great. first of all, i want to thank the jewish museum of florida for hosting this venue, and for inviting me. i'm here today to talk about an unsolved mystery that hovered over america for over 60 years. that is, whatever became of the passengers who sailed on the 1939 ill fated voyage of the st. louis?
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late may, early june, 1939, really the unthinkable happened. the ship carrying over 900 jewish refugees fleeing nazi germany, just six months after kristallnacht, were denied entry in havana and then denied entry into the united states, after sailing very close to the shores of miami beach. so tantalizingly close that the passengers could see the palm trees and the hotels, and it's always very meaningful for me to speak about this event right here, in miami beach, where my understanding is that it was actually very close to south beach. so it's very close to where we are right now, the scene of the crime. so to speak. we at the holocaust museum had some unfinished business with this story. we wanted to know what became of the passengers, one by one by one. for us the saga of the st. louis was not a story about a ship, it was a story about passengers.
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it was a story about people. there were 937 passengers on board the st. louis, which meant the st. louis was not one story, it was 937 stories. and not just stories, but consequences. there were 937 individual consequences to this ship being sent back. we also wanted to take on this project to trace the fate of all the passengers, because after all, when you think about it, the story of the st. louis is the place where holocaust history and american history intersect. it's also miami beach history. so where else but the holocaust museum in washington, this nation's memorial, the national memorial to the victims of the holocaust, who else would take on such a america related holocaust story? and the other reason we wanted to trace the favorite the passengers was simply the thrill of the chase, challenge, could we fine out what happened to all
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937 passengers on board the st. louis? so the st. louis set sail from germany, on may 13, 1939, again, as i said, six months after kristallnacht. they had american waiting numbers, 734 out of the 937 passengers had waiting numbers to get into the united states, as i'm sure you know there were strict immigration quotas, you had to get a number and wait. at that point in nazi germany, the situation was so dire that jews were willing to go anywhere in the world to wait for their number to come up. there were jews who went to shanghai, australia, south america. so those who were going to havana to cuba were considered the lucky ones, because they were going to only be less than an hour from miami beach. and those days, unlike today,
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you could go back and forth between cuba and the united states very, very easily. and the ironic part is that around 100 of the st. louis passengers, the men, had been in concentration camps and were released on condition they would leave the country, and they had to have a family member literally show the administration that they had a ticket to leave the country. so around 100 st. louis passengers were actually interned and then released because it was thought that they would be leaving germany. and for most of the st. louis passengers leaving germany of course was very bittersweet. it was sweet because they were leaving, but it was bitter because germany for the overwhelming majority of the passengers was home for many generations. as you can see from the photo in front of you, the st. louis is part of the hamburg america line, the passenger paid not
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only for passage, but they paid for landing permits in cuba. so they could wait there legally until their american waiting number came up. and for most of the passengers it was a, for all intents and purposes, it was a cruise, especially for the children. there were many children on board. and if you look at the row of boys in front, the second from your left is actually in the room today. it's herb. if you know herb, you could tell. and i think to the left is his brother walter. and you'll have a chance to hear him in a couple minutes. also for the adults there was shuffle board and all types of activities on board. the passengers thoughts they were going to freedom. they, the captain of the ship
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treated the passengers with respect, he told his crew, it was a rather large crew, many whom were members of the nazi party, that these passengers were germans and they paid for their tickets and are to be treated like any other germans. so for a jew to hear that sentence in 1939 germany and are to be treated like any other germans was quite extraordinary. on may 27 at long last, the st. louis arrives in the port of havana, and the ship is met by police boats where they are told that they could not land yet. they'd be able to disembark tomorrow. there was some delay in the process. but as it turns out, the st. louis passengers were not allowed to disembark. they had landing permits, which were sold to them by a corrupt cuban official who pocketed a
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lot of money, and these permits were supposed to be for tourists, not really for refugees. but, so the cuban government was closing this loophole right when the st. louis was approaching havana, the st. louis passengers could not disembark. the only passengers who could disembark were 22 jewish passengers who back in cuba actually paid $500, and then that was a lot of money, for actual legal cuban visas, signed by the cuban secretary treasury and labor. the overwhelming majority of st. louis passengers were told that their landing permits were no good. there was also a couple of days before the st. louis set sail, a massive rally in cuba, about 40,000 people there, which is sort of a pro facist rally. cuba had a relatively generous refugee policy and the tides were turning against immigration.
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so based on the infighting in the cuban government, plus the growing sentiment anti-immigrant sentiment in cuba, the timing of the st. louis, a large large ship, almost 1,000 passengers, was quite unfortunate. so many of the st. louis passengers had, some had relatives living in havana and others had relatives living in the united states who flew down to greet them at the port of havana. and the relatives who rented these little tugboats and sailed out to wave to the relatives on the st. louis, they were not allowed to get on board, they could just wave. here is the mirror image of the st. louis passengers looking back down at their relatives. for many of them this would be the very last time they would see their family members alive. in the unlikely place of the port of havana.
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so at that point there was a representative from the joint distribution committee in new york who flew down to havana and tried to negotiate with the cubans and that's a rather unfortunate and complicated story. so on june 2, the st. louis left cuban waters and sailed slowly to the united states. it was the belief that america would let in the st. louis passengers because, one, it's america the country of immigrants, the country of the statue of liberty, miami was just so close to cuba. and also based on the technicality that the overwhelming majority of passengers had waiting numbers to get into the united states. it was just a matter of letting them in a little bit early. but that was not to happen. as they approached the shores of miami beach, and again they came so close, right here, to south beach. they telegrammed the president roosevelt, the children wrote letters to eleanor roosevelt and
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most importantly they telegraphed the state department who was in charge of immigration. the passengers heard back only from the state department, from mr. moran, who was in charge of the visa division. in the telegram mr. warren said that the st. louis passengers, though they had had waiting numbers, would have to wait their turn, so the numbers, and would have to leave american waters. so that closed the door on the st. louis. the state department telegram. and just for a second to anticipate some of the questions if you were going to ask about president roosevelt who again this was primarily a state department issue, but the question came up, couldn't president roosevelt have issued an executive order, because it was not legal for the st. louis passengers to come to the united states based on bureaucracy? but couldn't there have been an executive order? and the answer is yes, there could have been executive order,
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there would have been some consequences, try to look at it in context. at that time president roosevelt was trying to modify the neutrality act, anticipating american involvement in world war ii. it was felt that if he -- if the president was perceived as trying to do anything specifically for jews at a time when anti-semitism was at its height in the united states, during the depression, that would not serve the greater good of trying to modify the neutrality act. it was believed that if the st. louis passengers were let in, it could possibly be at the expense of other refugees who had waiting numbers. or there was a fear that it would encourage other ships to get around american policy and just sail up to the united states. so it was not courageous of president roosevelt not to issue an executive order, but in a
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contextual way, and there's been a lot written about this in the last couple years, some would say it's understandable. from a contextual way. but then again i think of the passengers on the st. louis right there who had waiting numbers to get in right off the shores of miami beach. so it was a very, very complicated and heartwrenching situation. anyway, the ship did have to go back to europe, halfway through the journey back, you can imagine there was mass panic on the ship, there were rumors of suicide if the ship had to go back to germany. but due to a deal brokered, initiated by the american jewish distribution committee and four western european countries other than germany, belgium, holland, france, and england, the passenger was not have to go back to hamburg, they would go to antwerp and be dispersed there. on june 17 when the st. louis
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passengers disembarked in antwerp, that was considered the happy ending to the story. but of course with hindsight, we know that wasn't a happy ending, because three out of those four countries, belgium, france, and holland, were invaded by the germans so to be a jew in any one of those countries was, for the same intents and purposes, being a jew in germany. the passengers were doublecrossed, both literally, crossing the ocean, and figuratively. they thought they were going to freedom and they were rejected by two other nations. so fast forward to the late 1980's, i believe it was 1989, which was the 50th anniversary of the st. louis. we hear about a st. louis passenger named herbert carliner in miami beach and who was trying to find other passengers
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for a reunion. so based on herb's work all before the internet and anything, any modern search engine we have now, i believe there were around 40 or 50 st. louis passengers. so when we began our search in the mid-1990's still before the internet, this is all we knew was the list that herb had compiled and the assumption was those were the lucky few who survived the war. but we went on our mission then to determine the fate of all 937. we started in our own archives at the holocaust museum. excuse me. sorry about that. we did have a copy of the shipping, one of the lists of passengers. this was a list put together by the american jewish joint distributions committee, as they were dispersing them between the four western european countries, so at least we had the names of
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every st. louis passenger, their ages, and what country they were sent to. on the right, you could see it says belgium, holland, france, england. so at least we knew this very basic information. we then went to what are called the memorial books and also the deportation lists, which we have at the holocaust museum. within a very short time we were able to fine the names of well over 200 st. louis passengers who were deported from the very land to which they were sent, france, belgium, and holland who were deported. to auschwitz and to sobibor. though we knew we would find the names st. louis passengers on these death lists, still, each time you saw the name of somebody that you knew was off the coast of miami beach and ended up on a deportation list to auschwitz or sobibor, was quite shocking. and we also had a number of photos and tried to collect photos of families who were
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killed as well. so we'd have a human face to these names. this is an extended family who was on the st. louis, their two brothers, this is on the voyage to america. what you see in front of you, you can see how happy they looked, they are even dressed up, they're on a cruise, and they ended up back in brussels where they were deported to auschwitz where they were all murdered, the entire family. and we received in fact a photo from a man in malibu, california who is from germany, the same town they were from, who actually grew up, you see in the middle, the little girl, laurie, he grew up with her. her little childhood boyfriend, and he sent thus photo, laurie is one of the girls on the side, it was like a little kindergarten sort of pageant and party, very heartbreaking. laurie was murdered at
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auschwitz. after looking at the deportation records, we walked across the mall in washington, to the national archives. as i am sure many of you have done, family research. and we looked for immigration records of the united states to see if any of the st. louis passengers either during the war or survived the war were able to make their way to the united states. we'd have the shipping record, and surely we found the name of hundreds of st. louis passengers who either during or after the war happily, not happily, but we were happy to find that they made their way to the united states, we found the documentation. so then when we add it up, the numbers from the deportation records and added up the numbers from the immigration records, we were still close to 300 short. there were still 300 unaccounted for st. louis passengers whose names did not appear on the basic deportation records or on the basic immigration records. and we looked at deportation
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records also at archives around europe and israel as well. we were quite, quite thorough. but still, there were a few hundred unaccounted for st. louis passengers. it was at this point that we changed our strategy from, instead of looking for documents, we decided to go out and look for people. not just depend on documents who could tell us what happened to unaccounted for st. louis passengers, but real people. we knew there were people out there throughout the entire world who could tell us what happened to the missing passengers. it was just a matter of finding them. and again i stress this was in the dark ages of the mid 1990's, before all the social media and everything that we have today. when i go out and talk about this with kids, high school kids, junior high school kids, and i ask them if you want to look for information about people from 60 years ago and you want to reach as many people as possible, very quickly what do
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you do, where do you go? of course, you can imagine, facebook, twitter, and every time i speak a group there's a new technology i hadn't heard of the time before. and i have to again tell the students that back in the dark ages of the 1990's none of this existed and even though it exists today you still have to do traditional research. those tools, social media enhances research, but it's not in place of traditional research. mid-1990's. so what we did to reach people was the old fashioned way. real media, newspapers, radio, television, that's what holocaust survivors did, not television, but radio and media after world war ii. they put ads in newspapers in search of german jews and most of the st. louis passengers were german jews, put ads in a german jewish newspaper. so we many years later decided
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to take that same task knowing of course that even if someone survived a war they might not be alive 50, 60 years later to give us the information we were looking for. the very first newspaper where we published an ad was a small german language newspaper published in tel aviv, called "the israel news," or the jewish news much because remember this is primarily a german-jewish saga. we printed an ad there that listed all of the missing st. louis passengers, and it said above the list, if anybody has information on the following unaccounted for passengers of the st. louis, please contact scott miller at the holocaust museum, and gave my address, fax, phone, and e-mail. and i have to be honest, i was dubious about this, i had no training with media, i didn't think this type of stuff really worked. anyway, on this list of 300
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missing st. louis passengers was the family of three. there was a father, a mother, and they had a 5-year-old little boy michael. we had a paper trail of evidence based on documentational research that this family, when the st. louis was accept back to europe, they were sent to holland. and they were interned in a camp, then we have documentation showing that they were transferred -- we have no idea if they were killed or survived the war. these are names we always had in our head, because they had a 5-year-old boy. i get to work on the day that our ad is published, and i didn't even know what day it was being published. and i see i have an e-mail from israel that says the following. dear mr. miller, my name today is mischael barak. but in 1939 on board the st. louis my name was michael fink. i was 5 years old.
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i think you're looking for me. and he said he was in a suburb of tel aviv and could i call him. which i did. right away. and he told me he was expecting the call and we asked him to tell us his name and his parents' name to verify dates of birth and everything, and it all matched. and i said, can you tell me your story and how did you survive. he said first of all, two things i want to tell you, one, only my mother survived and unfortunately she died six months earlier. and michael was a little boy, so she was the one who would have had the real memory. and his father, he said, died literally just of illness as he was being put on a cattle cart to auschwitz, he just died, that's what we were told, he never made it. he said my father was off the coast of miami beach and died on a cattle car to auschwitz, how did this happen? he said to me in hebrew that
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america bears the burden for the responsibility for the death of my father. he told me afterwards that he and his mother were liberated by the soviets, and then first he was sent and then his mother joined him in palestine, he was -- it was a british blockade for immigrants to palastine. which is why there was no record of him, because the whole idea of a clandestine immigration is that there were no real records. and he said then his mother came to israel and they changed their name in 1948 from fink to barak. so he said, you were looking for the right person, but the wrong name. michael fink has not existed since 1948. so that was the story of just one, actually of three st. louis passengers. i have a few more minutes. so i want to tell you just one
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more story using the media. but i just want to show you that's michael fink in the middle, that was taken in holland, you can see they dressed up for this photo. and that's soon before they were deported. that's his only memory of his father, his last memory of his father. in i believe it was 1999 we were on n.p.r. doing an interview about the search for the st. louis passengers, being interviewed by scott simon and he said, actually my colleague and coauthor of my book, sarah ogilvey, he asked her to tell one story. we did not have time to tell the stories of all the people we were looking for. she told the story of rudy, and she said rudy was on the st. louis with his parents. leopold and johanna.
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they were deported to auschwitz, all three of them, the parents were gassed upon arrival, but perhaps rudy survived because we found a document in the holocaust museum showing that he was chosen as a forced laborer, as a tool maker at auschwitz. maybe he survived, maybe he didn't. somebody was driving to work in el paso, texas, and called and said i don't know if i can help you, my wife had a distance relative she always talked about in auschwitz that's a tool maker, that's all i can tell you. we got a lot of what we call phantom st. louis passengers. people called with information about people, but they are not on the st. louis. this guy calls us back a few days later and said, i am going to put my wife on the phone. she said, i had a relative who survived, but his name was robert felder. he died around 20 years ago, but his widow geraldine is still alive, she lives in detroit. we called mrs. felder on the phone and said, mrs. felder, was
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your husband robert felder? she said yes. and we said was he also rudy zingfelder, who tried to come to america on the st. louis, and she said yes, that was him. and we asked her, did rudy ever tell you how he survived in auschwitz? and she said there were two things. when the train arrived and the camp guards came and literally pulled people off the trains, when rudy's parents were sent to be gassed -- rudy wore glasses. he was only 15 years old, but his glasses went flying and he was sort of -- he had poor eyesight. he was flailing around. but because of the stereotype that you're weaker if you wear glasses, every teenager with glasses was sent to the line to be gassed -- but because his glasses went flying he was sent to the line for forced labor. it was just a matter of luck, and he had the presence of mind
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to say that he could work as a tool maker and that is in fact how he survived in auschwitz, and she gave us, she gave the holocaust museum this photo, and that's rudy in the middle, with his glasses, looks a lot older than 15, i think. but there's rudy with his glasses, and also given to us at the holocaust museum was a very important artifact. you might say it's just a napkin, and it is, but it a napkin with a story. when the dingfelder family disembarked in antwerp, rudy's father wanted to be sent to england because he had a brother there. if you could look at it, for those who read german, or do not read german, a lot of words are obvious. the top line says leopold dingfelder, asking to go to england because his brother carl of cleveland, ohio, was there in
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england so couldn't we please be sent to england. sadly, though, they were sent to holland, where they ended up being deported and only rudy survived. where's oren? how much time do i have? five minutes, okay. i do not want to give you the impression that we just went to the media and found everyone. we didn't. so we also went to try to retrace the steps of some of the st. louis passengers much we went to brussels where there were many st. louis passengers living and that day a photo from the old jewish refugee neighborhood. there was a gestapo census of the jewish population in 1941 in brussels, so we had all the addresses of the st. louis passengers and in some cases we had phone numbers. there were even telephone numbers. we so we went back to the very building where st. louis passengers lived in brussels,
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this was around 1999, the year 2000. the old jewish refugee neighborhoods, thinking there might be someone still there, who remembers what happened to their former neighbors 50 years ago. but in fact, while it's still a refugee neighborhood, it's no longer a jewish neighborhood, a lot of people from all over the world, people were extremely friendly but no one could help us with clues to what happened 50 years ago. we realized when you're doing research about jews from the 20th century, it is not so much where they are from, but where they went to. it is really the century of immigration. we focus on israel and the united states, the two centers of jewish population. away from europe, back to destinations, and in the name of brevity i'll just focus on, as can you tell, our guest in new york, a city that i'm from, we went to the new york public library and looked at old
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telephone books. in the new york public library. remember, when i explain to kids, there was no white back then. even so i don't think you have it for the 1940's, and 50's, you still have to go to telephone books. which may be by now are digitized, but that did not exist then. i started with manhattan and looking for names of st. louis passengers with manhattan addresses and within minutes i found the names of dozens of st. louis passengers, i didn't know if they were the same people, just people with the same name. but i noticed an address pattern and if there's any new yorkers in in room now you probably know what my next sentence is going to be. were addresses in the upper, upper side. above my age and older, you know that is washington heights, which was for many, many years into the 1960's was german jewelry.
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frankfurt on the hudson. never occurred to me to look for the clues. excited.y i get on the a-train and went up 81th train and got out. still a refugee neighborhood but demographics change. a dominican neighborhood. we heard a lot of spanish, ofever, there was a lot synagogues still in existence. of them and in the name of time, you can ask more questions about washington heights. administrator pulled out of a shoe box, old records. minutes we found the name of st. louis passengers who
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passed through the neighborhoods relatives paying for their care of their graves. within a year of going to the five synagogues that existed 14 years ago in washington heights, social service agents, we were unable to unravel the faith of dozens and dozens of st. louis passengers who passed through the neighborhood. one of the women we met was a woman from thend left. she was on the st. louis with her husband, newlywed husband. was her honeymoon and her uncle and she was the survived.hat she used to live in washington heights. couple years ago. she shared many stories with us. wherever i go around the country, i meet st. louis passengers. i was speaking in the librarycisco public around 10 years ago and a man
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sailed he was and a child on the st. louis. he gave us this photo. recognized hime from the photo. that is him with the cool shades sticking her tongue out. i think that was his sisters and we'll talk about them. he said he wanted to know what happened to his best friend. we were in a children's home in france together. we got separated. knew him because he always played the harmonica. the first names we found. he was deported in 1943 from the home he was caught to where he was gassed upon arrival. he was deported a month later. anyway, two minutes? one minute. ok, after over a decade of
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searching, we determined the of all 937 passengers of the st. louis. the childrenp of onboard the st. louis. surprise, the majority of st. louis passengers survived the war. bywas always believed survivors and scholars that the majority were killed. fact that most of them opinion the war in myman my tragedy.diminish the
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museum hopes that in doing this project to discover the face of all the passengers. we have rescued their individuals stories from we hope those who survived and those who died now have their memorial. so that's the united states holocaust memorial museum search for the st. louis passengers. not speak too fast. [applause] >> i'd like to invite our panelists to come up and sit at while il cyst table
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introduce them. >> mr. herb carliner, i'm so thrilled to have mr. carliner here. as you know, was born in germany, was a passenger on the m.s. st. louis. and after the ship returned to europe there carliner ended up france. his whole family was sent to auschwitz death camp in poland. jewishe help much a organization, mr. carliner survived the rest of the war in hiding. in 1947 he came to the united states, and he's going to be the speaking about his experience. i'd like the introduce our other panelists as well and invite them to join us and we'll have one.speak one by
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our second panelist is the leading historian of jewish community. she was the academic director of division at the contemporary jewery. author of -- alsoieve those books are going to be for sale. finally, dr. frank mora is latin american and caribbean center and professor of politics and international relations at f.i.u. prior to arriving there, served as deputy defense. of he taught at the national war college, national defense university and rhodes college. dr. mora is the author or editor of five books.
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and over 30 academic and policy chapters, mono graphs, u.s. latin american civil-military relations, cuban politics, and integration. dr. mora is a recipient of the secretary of defense medal for exceptional public service, department of 2012.e in each will speak for a few minute, then we'll open the floor for q and a. >> my name is her carliner, i germany, close to the polish border. youi don't have to tell
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nac happened # on crystal night, my father went down to store, somebody broke in and the store was completely destroyed. was completely broken, to police came and told us clean up the glass, then told us the synagogue is burning. sure enough,, and there was a bonfire, they threw books in in and torah inbody threw a there. my father was trying to retrieve us, we they wouldn't let had to go back home. gestapo dame and picked
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away.father and took him i'm the only one, the only way get him out of there was to some paper that we leave germany in the next three months. on the --ere to wait. the only place that was open was china. to china.permit to go my father came out, i didn't him.nize we found out that the cuban germany hadmburg, permit to go to cuba. since we wanted to come to the we both got permit to cuba. 1939.t germany in 13, which as, may
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few days ago celebrated our 75th anniversary that we left cuba. was wonderful, i ocean.een on the but for my parents it was very difficult. to start a life again. we were four children. two sisters, a brother and myself. havana, we got all our suitcases ready in front of doors, and the cuban police came up and said we have to papers.ur we boughted for one day -- days.ted for one day, two the first word i learned in manana.was but manana never came.
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cuban government -- they wanted $2 million. when wantedve 2 million they 4 million. noally they couldn't raise more money and the cubans told us to get out. ad the captain was a hell nice guy. he said we're going to the florida and if somebody will let us in. sent telegram to president roosevelt, didn't get no answer, mrs. roosevelt. sent telegram to canada, south africa, central america, nobody wanted to let us in. you, i happened to see miami beach when i was 12
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years old, from the ship. and i was very impressed, and i tod to myself i would like live here some day. well, it took me a long way to get around there. and chaseduard came us away from miami. to go back to that there later families, since we could not go back to germany, we ship.oing to jump hen the captain heard us, promised us that he won't take wouldk to germany, he scuttle the ship before we get to germany. well, two days before we arrived germany, we found out that countries won't let us in, france, belgium, holland and
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england. my parents, my brother and to france, we didn't know anybody there. we came to bologne, france was a jewish organization came on ship. children home in france, and asked the families if they want to send the a children home. so my parents said didn't know so they sentth us, the two boys, my brother and home., to the children we were outside paris in the children home, and three months and thee war broke out children home was sent to central france. we got there, excuse me, when we
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got there, we had to go to work instead of school because all in the village were wasoners of war and there an opening in the bakery. french. speak a word of but i went to work. i start to work there and i worked there for two and a half years. policee day a french came and picked me up, put me in a camp. but you have to have luck in life. because only boys over 16 years week before my 16th birthday, and they released me. over 16,iends were were deported and never came back.
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after this, the jewish andnization gave us papers we were traveling in france with false papers. southern france, we were trying to go to spain, couldn't make it. switzerland, we made it to switzerland. we got caught and sent back to france, because they had too many refugees in switzerland. finally, i found a job in a village near lyons, on the farm. with a friend of mine, we were farmer asked the me what kind of religion i was, catholic. he said okay, you're going to go with us to church some day. as you can see, i have a very accent, but my papers show that i was born
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in -- where they spoke german and french, and i got away with it. on sunday i went to church with my boss, i didn't know what to i was smart enough, i went behind him and whatever he did.i and i got away with it, too. a year. there for over and i was liberated by the american army. and i went to join the american captain didn't believe me. he said if you are what you told andhat you're jewish german, you better go walk to the organization who can vouch you. i went back to the organization to vouch for me, but they asked work with them, because they had thousands of children hidden in convents by different catholics. them.nd many of you,elieve me when i tell
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there are still people living in france who were jewish, and now catholic, because the theon who had the names on list were arrested and deported. and we haven't got the list of them. i came back to paris and then france accepted 450 boys, and the organization sent me there spoke german, french and yiddish. group there,n that weisel and a rabbi. i came here to the united states in 1947. hartford, to work in friend,cut and i met a i met a friend who had a car and
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miami. was going to i says can i go with you, he said sure. my dream came true. to miami, end of 1948. job was in the andteria on 10th street washington avenue. worked for a season in cat skill mountains. of a sudden i got a letter from uncle sam. i want you. ( laughter ) in 1939, he didn't want me. i was drafted into the army, passed my test in french and german and where do you think they send me, to korea. you know the old saying, the right way, the wrong way, the army way. after two years of
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service, i came back to miami openingnd there was an at a hotel, and i always wanted -- i never went to school, and i didn't finish elementary school, to a bakery school. i learned from one bakery to another. and there was an opening in the dane blue -- found hotel.ntainbleu and i got a job. i worked there for twelve and a finished therei as an assistant pastry chef. afterward i opened up my own pastry shop in north miami. married to a french from thech was also organization from france, we together. and i have two daughters and
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three grandchildren. i'm a very lucky guy. in my life.d but i'm lucky that i was not so many people when auschwitz and other places, eat and nothing to tried to survive. forank you very much listening to me. [applause] >> mr. karliner was honored in miami as being an outstanding hiszen of miami for contributions to american society. so thank you very much, mr. karliner. now marguerite.
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>> cuba entered the history of the holocaust as the country jews, whichay the is true of course. but this is only part of the story. tore are also other sides it. about the spoke illegal way that people were cuba.g into in cuba there were two ways of entering it. legally, you had the official it was almost impossible immigration into cuba. it was very complicated. and also procedure. on the other hand, there was a will say semii legal. immigration was
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$150ng these permits for each. intourists or passengers transit. now, this was a semi legal way, it saved the lives of almost screws before the -- tez -- legally ben he benitez sold many of these and it is true that he became rich with it, but he also people.e lives of these i would say that in cuba you can be, the people who are in the thernment or have authority, who was interested to have the jews in and who was not interested. germany wanted the jews out of
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germany. wanted the jews to arrive make a large performance of anti-semitism them, because in order organize all this. but they were sure that in the cubans would let them in, because of money, they knew cubans. can buy the theermany was interested, the -- they were collaborating with benitez who was interested to sell the permits and become rich. so all these people were the bad guys. were also saved the jews. the good guys wanted legal immigration policies.
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the secretary of state, he diplomatic service clean of corruption. and he was very much pro jewish. the people who were honest out, the jews.ed in, theyst. louis came captain, that the mocking the sovereignty of cuba. so they are morning the cuba, they had to go away. and the germans said that the cubans are offending the germans the jews in.g so again you have a part of it
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wanted to letans the cubans didn't want them. and the jews were victims of diplomatic clash between the americans. americans embassy said they don't want to intervene in internal jewish problems. but this is a lie, because they knew every five minutes, they wrote i don't know how many memorandum with reference to this, they knew what was going and they didn't say a word to the cubans who were under in ordertection, and to change their policy. convincedould have the cubans' now in cuba there was a dwellings between the army people.
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the -- was no, not strong man. chief of staff. staff.ef of it was behind the scenes, people know about it. now, batista was the man, batista and benitez there was sort of a patron relationship, it was part of cuban policy. and batista actually got some of money awhich from benitez. interested to have the money, but at that time he wanted to be elected as president and he did everything to hide himself from the public not to appear in public as in favor of the jews, would bem at that time not to popular. now the story is very
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but apparently there was an ultimatum of 48 to get the money. in the end, he accepted to negotiate. and if all the passengers would have paid the money, a deposit, according to the law this case involved about half a million this was legal. armyatista apparently sent people, asking for money from not legalpockets, money that would be with the government. and the lawyer couldn't something not legal, so he was ready to pay legally,
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but not illegally. so he eva saided these army people. conclusion is that batista realized that he was not getting ownmoney out of it to his pocket. he didn't care about the government giving him legally the money and didn't want to be involved in something that was popular. he pretended that he was sick. to see him,nt couldn't speak on the phone he was so sick. he participated in a meeting in the house of the meetingt, and in this they decided not to receive the passengers. but what they did was they said ultimatum and an put -- declaration that theson didn't comply with
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, and --m behindde an agreement back. both in the german documents and the american documents they use the same words, they accuse a --on that he was making both of them were using the same words, which i suppose someone in the cuban government leaked explanation. so after the st. louis for until the en of 1940, there was no jewish immigration to cuba, no refugees could come in. batistand september, was elected president, so again
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started, because he was giving the possibility to gain a money, and about more than 5,000 jews entered from september 4 until april, 1942. there were, 1942 batista declared he was declared cuba was already in the war immediately andr the united states, they were afraid of german sides coming disguised as jewish refugees. wasact one german spy executed and there were other that triedrman spies to appear like a jew. was a new decree that comingt the passengers from occupied countries are not allowed to enter cuba. but the refugees that were in
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allowed legally to stay until the end of the war. batista said that he was them.cepting notgermany was after 10 days of negotiation he let the jewish refugees enter island and will they live there for eight months, but they were living and they were safe. is the story that is not known, i think. but it could have been the second st. louis.
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but they were rescued. think that, according between 11 and, 12,000 jews saved their lives by cuba. to and they were saved thanks to cubans.eration of the so the -- the corruption of the cubans. so the corruption saved their lives, that's the funny thing. [applause] >> i'll be brief. much you are anxious to ask questions and engage in the discussion. to at least provide some context as to the situation in the united states during this time of the journey of the st. louis. toant to take 30 seconds thank you and to say how
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american we are at the caribbean center to be partnering with you, the jewish studies initiative, and of museum.he we are very committed to serving out to the many here incommunities south florida. so in terms of the latin the jewishmmunity, community, we want to continue examining the diversity in the region, supporting and sponsoring programs that are examining history, really the interdisciplinary approaches in which we try to reach out these key overlapping thetituents and groups in community. okay. let me get into the context part. i'm just going to look at what i or fivee four variables to try to
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understand and explain the was made int washington. one is that there is and there as clearly a strong desire, mood to remain neutral regarding in 1939.ean affairs and anything that may have as internationalism. coupled, i think, with that, is a strong feeling or hostility immigrants and immigration. there was a poll taken a little before, i believe it was late polls wereack then noddology wasn't ideal, but the 83% opposedthat relaxing restrictionings on immigration. so this is part of the intractable political environment or situation that
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delano roosevelt and his administration found themselves in at the time. remember was supported or i should say the 1924d by act that placed restrictions, as well as three month before the journey there was legislation before congress wagner if ian facilitate tried to restrictions. that legislation did not pass the congress. part of the sort of environment, the political environment that f.d.r. simply was not in the mood to the the second variable, i think int's important, is that
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was important gains made by isolationists, isolationists in congress. that simply were very adamant about getting involved in anything in terms of european affairs. strong isolationist view. another component and these are thelinked, is in 1939 president was considering what unprecedentedn election ofor the 1940. he was politically being very number of issues, issue ofich was the internationalism and issue of immigration. to reenforce that point even more in order to get a sense of the mood of the country, is that
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the country was still very much great depression. in 1938, there was a backward trend in terms of the state of the economy. felt, andmericans this again goes to the issue of expandingn, felt that the number of immigrants into the country would in a sense away the scarce jobs that time.vailable at the so when one asks the question, the president have signed an executive order and would that have legally, could he have done that? the answer is yes. answer is yes. what wasor would he or the political social environment considering politics, the election of 1938,
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immigrants,inst anti-semitism, third term, that felt militated against signing off on an executive order. and in the end of course he off.d scott mentioned a number of published have been in recent years, one of them by was saving screws by rosen who looked at this problem to explain with decisions that both roosevelt and the administration made in public, as well as those that private to deal with the issue of jewish ship of theand the st. louis.
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[alause] >> thank you very much, dr. mora panelists.of our i'm going to do something unique for a jewish audience, some of from miami, audience, many of you are, and for our university audience, which is to only ask you to ask questions. ( laughter ) i ask that the comments be saved for the panel discussion that follows this one. which will begin at about 4:00. so please raise your hand if you have a question for one of the panelists. joanna is going to move around with the microphone. please hold your comments. we are interested in hearing them and we will take them next, after the first group of questions. the first question, please, and please be patient, we're going to try to get to as many much as we can. 39, --938 and
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the money question) came from some kind of church supported wilke. so roosevelt was scared to death .f losing the election what i'm curious about, what roosevelt, she was pro jewish what was her role in this, didn't she have any influence on her husband to issue an executive order? >> i understand that she in a the president on this particular issue.
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do it, wasdid she she successful, i don't know the that. to but as you said initially in the, in your comment, the political pressure and the fear that he was going to do of hisng that none predecessors had really done, term,is to go for a third could have been hurt if he had exception. which is the way it was the >> yes. youne of the things that did not even touch on, and you understanding my that the cuban government ship to come to cuba. not one word was said about turned them away. and i would like you to clarify at this point. >> the cuban government, i would
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opposite. the ship st. louis and i'm sure that mr. miller can add something on this, this was organized by the german government, by the minister of propaganda, they wanted a very large ship because the st. louis was going regularly on the line havana.burg to this was unusual. they wanted and they organized time, they wanted to show the world that germany jews, butg out the that there -- a propaganda of germany . germans had a lot of agents radio stations and people to, they hired do a lot of anti-semitism.
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because shortly after the st. story, suddenly all disappeared. so it started on a very high level a few months before the st. louis, and then it disappeared. was really, and i've fromworking on material german sources, from american sources, from english sources the j. d. c. and i'm sure it was not, it's true that cuban government didn't want the passengers. an invitationot of the cuban government. the cuban government, this was in the neck to have paynes.e >> my question -- >> i'm interested in the fate of that you saidople paid more money and stayed in havana. did they make a life in cuba or
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did they emigrate? and the other passengers that arrived through 1942, how many in cuba?ayed >> so the first part of the question is what is the fate of the 22 who originally did pay the additional money for val i visas and got off, and then the part -- (inaudible question). >> so of the 22, and then also that in general ended up getting into cuba legally, what is their ultimate fate. >> so in terms of the 22 jewish passengers who paid the $500 and cuba, all of them to the united states,
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with the exception of one family, i believe. in havana in 2001, and i graves.r there's one family that stayed life there, built a and died in cuba. i believe immigrated to the united states. there's one who i believe is still alive in washington her name is veer ra -- vera heses. and she went to nursing school cuba. and she donated to the holocaust museum for her nursing diploma, fast for many years, she settled in washington heights and when the neighborhood turned to primarily spanish speaking, there's a big hospital there, she'sia presbyterian and able because of her trairning in cuba she was able to treat the spanish, so she'd really made full circle. were, like all the
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others, america bound, with the exception of one family. >> of those who remained in they came as tourists or transit.s in but they were always paying bribes to the policemen. of the -- none of them were deported, although they were afraid to be deported. by paying they were table to stay, until they got their and little by little they, almost all of them went to the states. there were many people from antwerp who were working diamonds. war the belgium government tried continue to belgium, back but most of them preferred to go york. so most of them, almost all of cuba.very few remained in
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was they grn father secretary of state in cuba at the time and he was the one that passengers offe the ship. there were two little girls that never paid ahey sent. and their father was a physician able to gethe was them off. there was an internal struggle cuban government. the cuban people and the cuban jewish.nt were very pro and the only problem was, as the professor said, there was one part which was the secretary of cuba.and the president of and on the other side you had very corrupt and also batista. so there was an internal struggle. majority of the cuban government and cuban people were pro jewish. and there could have been a lot done perform the american embassy would have put pressure ban government, this problem would have been solved.
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areasere's a lot of grace that people weren't aware. but i was very impressed by everything you said, you've done incredible research on it and i commend you on it. cuban government, cuban people, the majority were very, very pro jeur. like alltely, governments, there's a corrupt side. do lattic -- part. mattic to get thoseble two little girls without them paying money. they had a cuban citizen sendship because their a cuban citizen and a practicing physician. of the ones that stayed there, a long with i think there were 20 other people. but in the long run i feel that if the american government would ship tolly wanted to disembark either in cuban or the
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united states, something would happened. >> can you quantify, either by by percentage how and died, howrted many survived, and how many into the unknown column. >> okay. passengers, 254 died, and almost all of them deported. there were a few into auschwitz, fewof the 254, there were a who died in internment camps in france. there were two heart attacks in brussels. there were two suicides. but almost all the 254 were deported. so that seems like a small percent out of 937. many ways,ere are first of all that's obviously
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24 -- 554 too many. but up ins can be deceiving. first of all, eve known the majority survived, a high number full, meaninge in one family member did not survive. herb,e than one, like only herb and his brother survived. if you minus the england passengers who were send to england in relative safety, although there was one who died blitz kreig. if you mine us that number, 288, you have the number 620 who were on the continent. in france, belgium and holland. i'm sorry for all these numbers, i want to answer your question frsm the 620, there were 87 mo were able to get out waiting numbers before the nazis invaded, so numberalking about the 583. when the nazis came interest
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france, belgium and holland there were 583 st. louis passengers under their rule. mine --f you have 279from 538, you that survive so it's almost 50-50 if you're talking about under direct nazi rule. you in a sense of, to give more of a sense of numbers. in terms of the england passengers, we wanted to know to every single england passenger. there were two romanian born the st. louis who ended up in england during the war and they went back to romania. they didn't know english and they went back to romania. thatd find documentation they were alive at the end of the war, so they did survive. but i'm giving you that example to show how we had to make sure that every england passenger for. be accounted many of the male st. louis passengers in england were interned by the british because they were considered to be
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german, they were considered to aliens because in germany they were not considered to be german, only jewish. there was one st. louis passenger who died in the blitz kreig much so we wanted to for all of them as well. so i tried to give you, in terms numbers, so we can account for the fate of all 937 passengers. so varying degrees. many we met actual survivors who gave us full stories, and as of when we completed this project there werears ago alive. louis passengers considerably less today. but thank god there are still are so where we can account for the of all 937. 254 were killed. >> a like to ask a question of mr. karliner. what was the ultimate fate of
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saveaptain who helped to so many of these lives? himthe nazis do anything to and if he survive, was he honored by the jewish community any special way? first get together in miami beach and i put an ad in the paper in hamburg, want to find out about captain schroeder. from his nephew, and we invited the nephew of captain slowedder to miami beach. and he came and was very interested. about 3,000 survivors, organized the get together, his nephew presented me with a hat of captain
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for ader, which i had long time and then i gave it to the museum in washington. there.t's and one time where i was invited hamburg, germany, and i met his sister there. involved withuch the st. louis and she showed me beautiful book with the pictures of captain schroeder, story.e for capelt very sorry wantedchroeder and i to -- i sent the application, but i refused because captain schroeder was not in the war, the war.e whot that petition of all survived the st. louis and sent it back to israel and it was accepted.
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it's on the wall of the righteous in jerusalem. i found outs captain schroeder was on the sea when the war broke out and the english wanted the ship. -- he the ship came back to germany. a picture that captain schroeder gave to me, it was in hamburg and burned also he wrote a little book about the st. louis. and many survivors of the st. after the war
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because hed money man. decent so we really helped him too because he helped us. have two quick questions. one is, is there evidence that roosevelt turned down the opportunity to allow the st. to come in, is there memorandumdence, a to that effect? and the second question is, what did the american press say while the st. louis was on the coast of miami beach, did they try to the government or rally public opinion to allow the st. louis to come into the united states? your seconddress question. there was some rather wide of the plight, but only editors journalists and of major newspapers really
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suggested admitting or making an exception to the rule. in a sense reflecting the in the public at the time. so, no, the answer to your no.nd question is in terms of your first question, a lot that has been written recently about jews, morethe recently robert rosen published called saving the jews thee he tries to address issue in the context, but also thergue that in fact behind scenes president roosevelt was in europee a bit both and in cuba to save the jews and deal with the limitations that he had politically and legally. another book called refugees and rescue, that notes an unpublished diary by an aid
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roosevelt that tries to highlight, the diary i should say highlights how much roosevelt tried to do for the particularly jews, before the break of the war. this is still an issue of a lot debate and discussion, and even controversy. think more information is coming out reflecting really did at that time. >> we'll have one final question. the wanted to understand exact wording for this, because ton nowadays like i travel costa rica, it was $150 to get off to be there. so why was it $500 back in 1939? >> the question is regarding the additional $500 -- says it was legal, and legal.sident said it was
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>> the question is about the visa, thee actual $500, and the deal that within had come upthey with just under half a million dollars that would have secured the disembarkation of the entire boat. that price into context? >> according to the cuban laws immigration, the cubans who hadnly people capital. they didn't want the immigrants charges. public so they demanded that each immigrant woive imgrand would deposit $500, and this money was to himd to be returned after two years. so it was sort of a deposit, with the cuban --
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refugees, some of it was very difficult for them to get $500. cheaper, 150, they didn't exactly know the difference. didn't believe that the money would really come to them. don't know, let's say 900 500, itmultiplied by less 4,000, 4500, this was the money that was requested. according to what i studied, this, hehe didn't want preferred to send out the boat. it was, the negotiations came to really to a conclusion.
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>> 10 mugs to take out of germany. put $500. we were allowed to take out had to, ae want, we watch was $100, we had to pay tax. but money, you were not allowed only 10 hogs. >> the joint distribution committee and the cuban negotiations broke down, and a lot of people asked how they could not have made the amount. it came out to a think a half million dollars. a milliono half dollars. and the committee was, their main task was taking care of persecuted jews throughout europe. and i believe that the cuban
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raising theept amount that the joint simply couldn't make in that amount of time. combined with with a was said, know, there was no real will to take in the refugees. again, i think, this goes back to the united states in terms of what the united states done after negotiations broke down with cuba. >> a like to thank everyone for so long.d staying [applause] time in the war a lot of southerns had been away from four years andto they were getting letters home saying the farm is falling to pieces, we have patrollers in the area, they're taking supplies from us, when are you come home. so there's a large problem with desertions at this time, and it wasn't from the standpoint
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of soldiers not wanting to go into battle. heart stringseir were being pulled by their needing them back had imposed was a fairly strict set of orders that deserters would be sometimes shot and definitely the punishments, there are several occurrences of this happening. fact the morale was so low, this time, les miserables in book form of course and there were so many, some troops saw it on the shelf and said oh, that's us. miserables.
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